Leveraging Vacant Properties to Revitalize Neighborhoods
More than 40,000 lots and properties sit vacant in Philadelphia, impacting economic mobility, public safety, and quality of life for many residents, especially those in low-income neighborhoods. To address this problem, the Department of Planning and Development enlisted FUSE executive fellow Amanda Soskin to develop a strategy aimed at managing, activating, and reducing the number of vacant properties in the city. Amanda helped articulate a clear, unified vision for the city’s various vacancy reduction programs, including ongoing efforts to establish a land bank. She identified shared goals and proposed a new organizational structure to support strong leadership and enhance interagency collaboration. She also helped harmonize efforts across the policy, operations, and communications functions, and she designed a methodology to encourage the use of incremental strategies. Amanda’s work has enabled a more strategic and coordinated response to the problem of vacant and abandoned properties, bolstering the city’s efforts to revitalize distressed communities.